Since my diagnosis, the universe has had a way of connecting me with some incredible people. Everyone who has followed my journey knows how the universe sent me Dr. Edna Garcia to save my life, but there are many more instances than that. Enter my chemo angel, Dawn.
What Is A Chemo Angel?
My sister, Jamie Starr, came to visit me after my double mastectomy. She was thinking of ways that she could help me. She came across this website called Chemo Angels and asked me if she could sign me up. I said, “sure!” The purpose of these volunteers is to support “buddies” throughout their journey of cancer with cards, uplifting messages, supportive words, and lots of positive energy to help us feel like we are not alone. How sweet is that?!
Kindness from an Angel
It was March 9th, and I was in pain from my expanders getting filled. I was feeling nervous about my chemotherapy treatments and was not having the best day emotionally. I came home to a beautiful letter filled with so much love from Dawn, my chemo angel. It was an introduction letter with a “Be Brave” motivational card taped on the inside for me to carry or tape on the mirror.
“Be Brave. On your journey ahead, remember to take a deep breath, smile, stay positive and your inner light and strength will shine from within.”
Here is a fun fact about me, I love old fashion snail mail.
I love mailing out cards to my friends for no reason just to say hello! When I received this letter, I was more than touched. She shared her personal story on how she got connected with Chemo Angel, she shared amazing details on the city of Cleveland (who knew it was such a cultured and fun city!) and she talked about her career. Dawn, my Chemo Angel, included her email address so I quickly wrote her an email to introduce myself and simply thank her for the kindness she shared.Following this letter, I received additional letters on March 16th, March 23rd, March 29th, and April 10th (can you tell it was something I beyond appreciated?) and they have been filled with Edible Arrangements, bath aromatherapy for me and my children, more inspiration cards to keep in my wallet, emoji letters from an app called Felt, Passover cards, and motivational messages.
To find out a little bit more Dawn and how she got involved with Chemo Angels, I asked her a few questions last week to learn more about my favorite angel.
Q: How did you get involved with becoming a volunteer as a chemo angel.
A: In 2005, I read an article in People magazine about the founder of the Chemo Angel program and how the program got started. I thought it was interesting because I love sending mail and it’s a great way for instant gratification. Being able to impact one specific person by snail mail, which I love, was a no-brainer, and I signed up. My mom is the queen of giving gifts so it fit perfectly in with what she had installed in me, and I signed up as a volunteer even though I have never been diagnosed.
Q: How was I assigned to become your Chemo Angel?
A: It is a random process were the administrators match you based off of your interests that you fill out when you sign up. (We think that because running, outdoors, and fitness were on our profiles we thankfully matched up.) Dawn did tell me that for personal reasons she was going to take a break to focus on herself, but her initial thought was that was silly, because “I can easily write a card.” She was notified that her current chemo patient had graduated. She clicked on a link to resign up and a few seconds after that click I became her newest chemo angel patient. (How lucky am I?)
Q: Have you heard from any of your Chemo Angels?
A: The expectation is that patients are going through a difficult time and the patient is not expected to reach back out. I did receive a few thank you notes at the end, but that is the expectation. I know I may never hear from them and she understood that. I was very excited you reached out and shared your Facebook group “Let Me Get These Off My Chest” and that our relationship has built up in a short time to a friendship.
THANK YOU, DAWN! The actual joys of checking my mailbox does not only help me mentally but also something I absolutely love.
Dawn’s Rules to Live by In Life:
“Spread kindness One Smile at a Time”
“Be Kind to Everyone You Meet because you don’t know what they are going through.”
It is a reminder to all of us that these random acts of kindness are what we should be most grateful for in this world. Gratitude is not only about our everyday accomplishments. It is not about material things we have or want to buy. Gratitude comes from being a person alive in this world and paying that forward in a simple act of kindness. I know the feeling of the everyday grind. I am a mother two toddlers; I am a wife, daughter, sister, Aunt, and friend. I work a corporate job, I exercise, I am fighting breast cancer and I cannot wait to be someone’s Chemo Angel and pay this simple act of kindness back into the world.
In the meantime, I cannot tell you what a beautiful relationship that has developed and how much I have in common with my Chemo Angel. Our goals together are one day to meet and run a half marathon together or maybe even meet on The Ellen Show…A girl can dream, right? In the meantime, without Ellen, we can continue to do something we both love. Being kind and spreading kindness one simple letter at a time.
If you want to learn more about Chemo Angels, check it out here.